TRIAL & RETRIBUTION IV. ITV, UK. October 4 & 5, 2000. 2 x 2 hours, less adverts. David Hayman, Kate Buffery, James McCready, Steven Hartley, Richard McCabe, Dorian Lough, Zoe Lucker. Teleplay: Lynda La Plante. Director: Michael Whyte.


   This fourth series brings back Detective Superintendent Mike Walker (hardly a likeable cop) and Detective Inspector Kate North, still living together after meeting on the original T&R.

   North is included in a team that is investigating an eight year-old murder where the convicted killer, James McCready, is alleging miscarriage of justice with the help of a barrister MP and a television reporter. It all hinges on police skulduggery in the original team led by, yes you’ve guessed it, Walker. North states her relationship but, rather improbably (to state the obvious) is told to carry on anyway.


   Quite watchable but it’s cliched (very). For example Walker, suspended but continuing to investigate, finds evidence in Glasgow that McCready has committed a murder there 12 years earlier. Next day, the day the appeal opens, he is travelling back to London so he phones North, at home and pregnant, and tells her to rush to the court of appeal to say that this vital evidence is on the way.

   Why could he not ring direct, why could he not ring his police station, why indeed didn’t he ring the night before when he found the evidence? And anyway it doesn’t take a legal genius to work out that the evidence of an earlier crime would have absolutely NO effect on the appeal against conviction in a later one.

   Still it creates the excuse for the pregnant North to rush, trip on the mat and collapse. Two more dramatic situations are set up — will the evidence get there in time and will the baby survive?

   There were lots more situations like this to groan over, but if you want to pass an undemanding (just under) four hours this should do it. It’s just a shame that after the superb original Trial And Retribution (1997), it’s been steadily downhill.

   Lynda La Plante (writer, producer, etc.) has become a churner out of trifles. Incidentally the novelisation of this story has been produced with La Plante’s name prominently on cover, spins, title page and copyright page. The cover also though reveals “Novelized by Robin Blake.” Note, too, it’s “Novelized”, not “Novelised.” What are things coming to?

— Reprinted from Caddish Thoughts #87, November 2000.

Editorial Comments:   There have now been 10 seasons of Trial & Retribution, the most recent having been aired in 2008. There are no plans to continue. Seasons one through four are available in the US as one DVD box. (See below.) I believe all of the others have also been released in this country.